News

11 May 2018

Ground-breaking research sees Scotland’s songwriters collaborate with individuals who have first-hand experience of the criminal justice system

Distant Voices

Distant Voices, a research project that has developed song-writing in Scottish prisons as an innovative way of exploring and enhancing rehabilitation and justice, is launching its debut album.

The album, called Not Known at this Address, is a collaboration between Scottish song writing talent, people with direct experience of criminal justice, prison staff, researchers and social workers.

Distant Voices is a partnership between the charity Vox Liminis and the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) and brings together academics from the University of Glasgow, University of West of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh whose work spans criminology, musicology, politics, social work and sociology.

The project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (and with match funding from arts funder Creative Scotland and from the Scottish Prison Service), aims to change the conversation about punishment and reintegration.

It is led by Professor Fergus McNeill, the University of Glasgow’s Professor Criminology and Social Work, based at the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, who said: “Rebuilding a life after crime and punishment is often full of challenges. People with convictions are often locked out of employment and housing, finding themselves without the material resources they need to move on. Imprisonment can also damage relationships with family and friends, weakening the crucial support we all rely on in navigating big life transitions.”

“In other words, the ways that we punish people often weaken the possibility of reintegration. The songs on Not Known at this Address articulate some of these challenges – and invite all of us to think critically about our part in these processes.”

Vox Liminis Director Alison Urie said: “Crime is at heart an emotive topic, but the way we deal with it in criminal justice often ignores the human aspects for everyone involved. Songs provide a way to share stories and thoughts that connect with each other’s humanity, and help us to see beyond the prevailing narrative of ‘goodies and baddies’.”

The songs featured on Not Known at this Address features a variety of genres, moods and lyrical storytelling. Whether it’s learning an instrument for the first time (Frank’s Song), coming to terms with the death of a relative (Never Got to Say Goodbye or Dining Room Hospital) or the struggle to become a better father (The Man I Used to Be), the struggle for belonging is a key recurring theme in the album.

The co-writers on the album, many writing songs for the first time, have joined forces with a stellar cast of Scottish songwriting talent. Brought together by the project’s Creative Lead Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), the record features Emma Pollock, C Duncan, Rachel Sermanni, Kris Drever, Pronto Mama, Bdy_Prts, Fiskur, Donna Maciocia and Admiral Fallow themselves.

Notes to Editors

For more info, contact Fergus.McNeill@glasgow.ac.uk (07795 252823).

Please note the album is embargoed until May 25th. Physical copies available on request. The songs can be accessed at: https://soundcloud.com/voxliminis/sets/distant-voices-not-known-at-this-address/s-GCypD

The album trailer can be found here: https://youtu.be/BDCnZUKntqQ

The album launches at a gig on 25th May at Saint Lukes in Glasgow and on 29th May at Leith Theatre in Edinburgh (as part of the Hidden Doors festival). For more info, see: https://www.voxliminis.co.uk/projects/distant-voices/coming-up/

Distant Voices is a partnership between the charity Vox Liminis and the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR) and brings together academics from the University of Glasgow, University of West of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh. For more information about the project, see www.distantvoices.org.uk

The Economic and Social Research Council (60%) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (40%) have agreed to co-fund the project, which is also supported by the University of Glasgow, Creative Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service and Glasgow Community Justice Authority.

The project is led by the SCCJR’s Fergus McNeill (Professor of Criminology and Social Work at the University of Glasgow), Alison Urie (Vox Liminis), Jo Collinson Scott (Lecturer in Commercial Music at the University of the West of Scotland) and Oliver Escobar (Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh).

The Distant Voices project hope to turn on its head the conventional understanding of ‘offender rehabilitation’ – looking at what changes are need to receive those prisoners when they come home after punishment.

Its aims are:

• to improve academic and public understandings of social re/integration after punishment;
• to develop innovative practices to better support re/integration; and
• to better engage a range of citizens, communities and civil society institutions in re/integration.

Vox Liminis is an arts organisation, established in 2013, to explore the role and potential of creative arts in criminal justice and its reform. https://www.voxliminis.co.uk/

Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross and BBC Scotland Radio Presenter said of the album: “Listen to these songs not because it’s such a worthwhile project, though it is, but because you’ll love them.